Fri, April 13, 2018
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) announced its support for Amendment 3, known as the Voter Control of Gambling amendment, which will appear on the November ballot. The amendment would require voter approval to authorize casino gambling in Florida.
The WOCC has aligned with Voters in Charge, sponsor of the amendment, in standing in opposition to legalizing Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida without first requiring approval by a statewide vote of the people. The issue unites both parties against casino authorization without voter approval. Seventy-one percent of likely GOP primary voters and 72 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would be less likely to support candidates who would vote to expand casino gambling without statewide voter approval.
“Our support of Amendment 3 falls in line with our long-held stance in opposition to the expansion of gambling and gaming in the state of Florida,” said Stina D’Uva, WOCC President/CEO. “We believe an issue of this importance should be determined by the Florida voters.”
“For nearly a century, it was voters, not politicians, who decided whether to authorize casino gambling in our state,” said John Sowinski, Chairman of Voters In Charge, the group sponsoring the amendment. “Voters overwhelmingly support Amendment 3 because it will return control of casino gambling decisions back to the people, rather than gambling lobbyists and Tallahassee politicians.”
Wed, April 11, 2018
In recent weeks, you may have heard from fellow Chamber member Target Marketing & Southcomm Publishing regarding advertising opportunities for the upcoming Chamber map. The West Orange Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be working with Target Marketing, a cartographic and marketing firm, to publish a new, up-to-date, full-color Street Map and Resource Guide. This publication will be the only official map endorsed and distributed by the WOCC.
Don’t miss out on this unique member opportunity to reach potential buyers, new residents and new partners. Space is limited, and sponsorships are reasonable, especially considering more than 10,000 maps will be printed and available for the next 12-18 months, along with a digital version showcased on the Chamber’s web site.
Tue, April 10, 2018
Apply now for the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI), a program that was developed by business leaders in Central Florida and is managed through the Orlando Economic Partnership. This unique non-partisan, regional initiative was designed to prepare and strengthen the next generation of elected leaders before they formally choose to run for a specific public office. Since its inception in 2008, 17 graduates from the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute have served in public office.
PLI features a two-day political leadership school, ongoing leadership activities throughout the year, important networking opportunities and a final one-day course that concludes with a graduation. It features local, state and national speakers who share their invaluable expertise on campaigning for public office and leading once elected.
Click here to learn more about this program and submit your application. Must apply by Friday, April 27.
Tue, April 10, 2018
Kingdom Consultant With Vatessa
June Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Wed, April 04, 2018
Reed Nissan received the prestigious Cornerstone Award for Youth Empowerment given by the Central Florida Urban League. The fun-filled event celebrated the individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the community.
The League recognized Reed Nissan for its annual “Cars for Kids Giveaway,” part of the dealership’s "Reed Gives Back to the Community Day," where two (2) young adult students currently in the region’s foster care system receive a new Nissan automobile. Dependable car ownership makes a substantial difference in the life of a young person as they transition to self-sufficiency. The vehicles, including paid taxes, are donated gifts presented by Reed Nissan.
Fri, March 30, 2018
Covelli Family Limited Partnership (CFLP), part of the largest franchisee of Panera, LLC, is pleased to announce they are celebrating 20 Years in Florida with the opening of their 80th bakery-café in the area. Panera Bread will open their doors at 6:30AM on April 4th at 4054 Conroy Road in Orlando. The new location will feature a drive-thru and is conveniently located near the Mall at Millenia.
“We have a lot to celebrate and want to show our sincere appreciation to our customers for the past 20 years” said Kevin Ricci, Owner of CFLP. “We have the most generous and loyal customers in the industry and they are the reason for our success.” With the help of Panera’s customers, CFLP has been able to donate $125 Million over the past twenty years to local non-profit organizations through their Operation Dough-Nation formalized giving program consisting of Community Breadbox™ cash collections, Day End Dough-Nations™, in-kind donations, sponsorships and proceeds from cause-marketing campaigns. In addition, CFLP employs 5,000 people throughout Orlando, Tampa and along the East Coast of Florida.
The opening day celebration will include surprise giveaways every 20 minutes from 6:30AM-9:30PM, a celebratory toast and ribbon cutting at 10:00AM, followed by a $200,000.00 check presentation to the Foundation for Foster Children. “Giving back to the community has always been the backbone of our organization” said Annette Ford, Owner of CFLP. “We intend to keep this commitment to our local communities and continue supporting non-profit charities that better the lives of others.”
“Since the very beginning, Panera has been a strong partner increasing our awareness in the community and we are honored to be connected to such a generous company that truly cares and shows that commitment every day”, said Betsey Bell, Executive Director of Foundation for Foster Children. “None of this can be done without the support from community leaders like Panera Bread.” Since 2009, CFLP has donated $350,000.00 to the Foundation for Foster Children.
In addition to giving, Panera Bread has made a commitment to being transparent and touts a 100% clean menu consisting of no artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or colors from artificial sources. “For 20-years Panera Bread has made a name for itself in Central Florida under the guidance and strong leadership of both the Covelli and Ford families,” said Janet Morrow, Orlando Health Foundation Vice President – Corporate Partnerships. “Not only have they helped promote the concept of clean, healthy and convenient eating in our community, but they have also provided philanthropic support to Orlando Health through their Pink Ribbon Bagel and Valentine Heart Cookie cause-related marketing campaigns to benefit patients of our cancer and cardiac services. Annette Ford, Orlando Health Foundation Board member, has generously supported our life saving mission for years and we remain grateful for this amazing partnership.”
The grand opening celebration will symbolize the growth of the company, their continued commitment to giving, and an unwavering appreciation for the many guests and employees who have made Panera Bread what it is today. For more information about CFLP and their 20 Year Milestone, visit paneraflorida.com.
Tue, March 27, 2018
In anticipation of the continued strong growth of the West Orange business community, the WOCC’s Growth Matters campaign will transform the Chamber headquarters to create a state-of-the-art interior with expanded meeting areas, new member service stations, upgrades to the building’s exterior and accommodations for a growing staff to meet our members’ needs.
The Chamber’s growth would not have been possible without many amazing leaders in its history. One that stands out is Danniel J. Petro. We lost Dan to cancer on this day five years ago, but his impact is still felt today across West Orange County. Dan exemplified the Chamber’s mission through his service as a teacher, Marine, business owner, entrepreneur, mentor and philanthropist. He facilitated success for himself and many others.
Today, we seek to honor this man’s memory, and through his legacy inspire the next generation of community leaders. It is the WOCC board of directors’ desire to raise $70,000 to create the Danniel J. Petro Conference Room.
Contributions, along with 17 years of strong fiscal planning by the Chamber’s Leadership, have resulted in our ability to execute this $588,000 capital renovation. To date, we have secured just under $300,000 in contributions toward a $370,000 fundraising goal. Lead contributors to the Growth Matters campaign include Florida Hospital and Universal Orlando at the Expeditor level, and Orlando Health, Walt Disney World, City of Ocoee and City of Winter Garden at the Implementer and Municipality levels. To view all campaign donors, click here.
This matching gift program will help us raise $70,000 toward completing the goal. This money must be secured in order to fully execute the renovation that is needed to serve our dynamic business community, while facilitating economic growth and stability.
Thanks to the generosity of Bright Future Electric, the Petro Family Foundation, the children of Danniel J. Petro and Chamber Board members, dollar-for-dollar donations will be matched up to $35,000. We have until May 31, 2018 to complete this task. We hope you will consider honoring one of West Orange County’s greatest leaders in celebration of the 45 plus years the Chamber has been serving our community. To learn more and to download a Growth Matters pledge form, click here.
Wed, March 14, 2018
After 44 years of service to Goodwill and eight years as president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Bill Oakley has announced his plans to retire, effective June 30. The search for Oakley’s replacement will commence immediately, led by executive search firm Korn Ferry.
Oakley joined the nonprofit in 1974, serving in leadership roles at Goodwill organizations in Savannah, Ga., and Greenville, S.C. In 2010 he took the helm of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida.
Since then Oakley has driven the nonprofit’s growth through new retail stores, donation centers and Job Connection Centers across Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard and Volusia counties. Under his leadership, Goodwill has expanded its offerings to adapt to the community’s changing needs, adding programs to assist military veterans, the homeless and other job-seekers in need.
“Bill has dedicated his entire career to championing Goodwill’s mission of removing barriers and providing new opportunities to connect with the world of work,” said Michael Hsu, chairman of Goodwill’s board of directors. “He leaves an extraordinary legacy of leadership and service and has positioned our Goodwill for future success. I will miss him dearly and wish him the best in his next chapter of life.”
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is the region’s third largest nonprofit by revenue, according to the Orlando Business Journal. In 2017, Goodwill provided more than 47,500 people with resources and training to help them find meaningful work. These services are funded by the sales of donated goods in its network of 28 retail stores.
Parties interested in the CEO search may complete an online application with Korn Ferry at http://bit.ly/2Htr98S.
Tue, March 13, 2018
By Amanda Wilson of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A.
One of the most publicized changes made by last year’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act was a reduction in income tax rates for corporations and individuals. The maximum corporate tax rate has been permanently reduced from 35% to 21%, and the maximum individual tax rate has been reduced temporarily (through 2025) from 39.6% to 37%. These changes reopen the age old question of what type of entity is best from a tax perspective. It used to be relatively simple to answer – pass-through entities such as partnerships and S corporations were the preferred structure where business realities allowed for that choice. In light of the tax rate changes, this may no longer be the case and it may be time to reconsider your choice of entity.
If a business is taxed as a corporation, the business will pay tax on its taxable income at a 21% rate, meaning $21 of federal income tax on $100 of taxable income. In contrast, if the business is organized as a partnership, the income is passed through to the partners and reported on the partners’ tax return. If those partners are individuals, the partners are potentially paying $37 of federal income tax on the $100 of taxable income (if the income is ordinary such as rental income). As I have previously discussed, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act provides for a deduction on qualified business income, which would include income from partnerships. Even in the best case scenario where the partners are able to take the maximum 20% deduction on qualified business income, which will often not be the case, the maximum deduction would reduce the tax to $29.60.
One of the key benefits of a pass-through over a corporation is that there is an additional layer of tax (at a rate of up to 23.8%) when the corporation distributes its profits out to its shareholders. If the corporation distributes the $79 of after-tax dollars discussed above, there would be an additional $18.80 of tax, resulting in a total tax of $39.80. Even with the tax rate reduction, this means that a corporation will result in less after-tax dollars ($60.20) for its owners than a partnership ($70.40) if the profits are distributed out. However, many companies do not distribute profits to its owners, instead keeping the profits to grow and expand the business. For those businesses, a corporation may provide a better tax answer than a pass-through in this post-tax reform environment, especially if the owners’ ultimate exit strategy involves a sale of their equity in the business.
For more tax news and information, visit Amanda's blog Lowndes Taxing Times.
Tue, March 13, 2018
Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.
There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.
With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:
We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.
If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.
For a step-by-step guide on how to create an above and beyond Company Page, view our LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices.
Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.
The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.
To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.
When a post gets good engagement, consider promoting it to a wider audience with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Take the Sponsored Content Tour and discover how Sponsored Content amplifies your best content.
Seventy nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide on your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.
For more ideas and advice on expanding your brand’s authority, download our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership to learn more.
LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.
LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.
For more ways to reach your ideal audience, learn how to advertise on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.
Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and career opportunities. They give you dedicated Life and Career Information Tabs on your Company Page that attract and engage relevant professionals.
In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.
When building an all-star team make sure to do a salary comparison to help with hiring decisions.
7. Hire Freelancers
You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.
LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.
LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find entrepreneurs your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.
By encouraging entrepreneurship, you get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management or competitive salary overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.
Tue, March 13, 2018
The Law Office of Leslie Yadi, PLLC
South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association
Thomas Meena, CPA
Tue, February 27, 2018
The West Orange Foundation is proud to present a new scholarship opportunity for area students this year, the Danniel J. Petro and Voight Foundation Scholarships.
The scholarship fund, administered by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, was established to make it possible for eligible students from local high schools to further their education at Valencia College, Orange Technical College or the University of Central Florida. The West Orange Foundation is able to fund the scholarships through the generous contributions of the Petro Family Foundation and Voight Foundation.
In order to qualify, eligible senior students must:
Several student recipients may be awarded $1000 scholarships; the number of recipients will be dependent upon the amount of money available in the scholarship fund at the time of the award. Two student recipients will be awarded $2500 scholarships from the Petro Family Foundation. Any unspent funds will be allocated to the following academic year.
To download a copy of the application, click here. Eligible students should complete the application in its entirety, which includes a list of activities, leadership positions and honors, community involvement and special recognition awards and honors, along with a personal essay in which they should describe themselves and provide information about their most significant accomplishment.
For any questions regarding this scholarship, please contact Carrie Wilson at the above email address.
Tue, February 27, 2018
Axiom Bank, a leading community bank headquartered in Central Florida, is expanding its presence with a new freestanding branch at 16418 New Independence Parkway, Suite 100 in Winter Garden’s Hamlin community. A ribbon-cutting took place Feb. 22.
The nearly 2,000-square-foot, open-design facility features advanced banking technology including teller pods and instant-issue debit cards. In addition, the branch features a community lounge with complimentary Wi-Fi, local premium coffee and a community table available for meet-ups or work space.
“Winter Garden’s tremendous growth in recent years presents an ideal opportunity to reach residents who are seeking new banking options,” said Daniel Davis, President and CEO of Axiom Bank. “We look forward to serving our neighbors with a community-focused, values-oriented approach.”
Jessica V. Ludvigsen, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking, added: “As a Winter Garden resident, I’ve seen our area gain momentum with new commercial and residential developments and corresponding job growth. We’re eager for Axiom to join this vibrant community.”
During the opening event, Axiom Bank made a charitable donation of $2,500 to Matthew’s Hope Ministries, a homeless outreach organization based in Winter Garden.
Axiom Bank has 24 branches throughout the state, with 11 locations in Central Florida. Hamlin is Axiom’s second freestanding branch. For more information and to find the location nearest you, visit www.AxiomBanking.com.
Tue, February 27, 2018
Windermere High School, which opened in August, won First Place in the Architectural Showcase (High School category) at the Florida Educational Facilities Planners Association’s (FEFPA) winter conference. The conference and awards showcase was held January 31 to February 2 at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida.
The school was designed by SchenkelShultz Architecture and built by Wharton-Smith, Inc.
Windermere High features a Florida traditional architectural style with Bahama shutters and metal roofs. It is the first OCPS school to feature a rainwater cistern, which funnels water to the greenhouse. The school also features interactive touch panel TVs in every classroom, a 1-to-1 digital device ratio, WiFi throughout and audio enhancement in every classroom. Classrooms are arranged around collaborative spaces that encourage teamwork, and the cafeteria features restaurant-style seating and décor. The school is built to meet Green Globes Building Standards.
FEFPA’s annual architectural showcase recognizes outstanding educational facility design. Projects were evaluated on their innovative response to the educational program, aesthetics and use of materials, flexibility for community use, technology provisions, “green” design, use of space, flexibility and site development.
Tue, February 27, 2018
If you’ve spent any time in West Orange, you know it is the place to be to enjoy culinary masterpieces. With the sheer number of incredible restaurants in the area, it can seem impossible to keep up with all these delicious and unique food creations, but luckily, they’re all in one place on Thursday, March 8 at the 16th annual Best Fest – “The Taste of West Orange,” presented by CenturyLink. This event will once again take place along the shore of Starke Lake in beautiful, historic Ocoee.
There’s still time to take advantage of the fantastic promotional opportunities for your business that Best Fest provides. Last year, over 60 restaurants & businesses provided mouthwatering samples and sips to over 1,000 event attendees. Register now for your food/beverage or business booth to maximize your exposure and have your business included on all upcoming promotional materials.
If you’re not working at your business booth, then bring your friends and enjoy the best of West Orange! One price gets you unlimited tastes from the area’s best restaurants, bakeries, hangouts, coffee shops and delis.
Last year’s award winners were: Table Top Catering – BEST FOOD, Pilars Martini – BEST BEVERAGE, Nothing Bundt Cakes – BEST DESSERT, Observer Media Group – BEST BUSINESS BOOTH and Press’d Juice Bar & Kitchen – BEST HEALTHY OPTION.
Visit our website for more information and to save $10 on the purchase of your all-access wristbands in advance of this phenomenal event. Save an additional 10% when you purchase ten wristbands! If you are a local food or beverage vendor that hasn’t yet registered, we highly suggest you contact the Chamber at 407-656-1304 to secure your free booth space. Spaces are limited, so register at wochamber.com or call in today!
Tue, February 13, 2018
The Voight Foundation
Land Plus, Inc.
New Directions Orlando, an affiliate of Go Travel, Inc.
P. H. Freeman & Sons, Inc.
Wed, January 24, 2018
GradePower Learning recently announced a groundbreaking franchise sales initiative. On January 1, 2018, the organization welcomed its first Area Representative, Alexander Fernandez, to the GradePower Learning family.
Alex has committed to opening an unprecedented 12 centers in the Jacksonville, Florida area over the next five years, dramatically expanding the GradePower Learning brand
into the United States market. This is great news not only for Jacksonville and for Florida, but for all of GradePower Learning!
For the past eighteen years, Alex has been successfully working in the franchisee industry, operating Dunkin’ Donuts locations in both Florida and Georgia. This experience has earned him an in-depth understanding of operational and franchise management, granting him the skills and the experience to take on this momentous undertaking.
Many may already know Alex through his fiancée, Gina Geloso, who opened the Ocoee, Florida center three years ago. Alex is very excited to be part of the GradePower Learning team and looks forward to collaborating with the local community in the very near future!
Tue, January 23, 2018
Thanks to support and funding from the West Orange Health Alliance, the West Orange Dental Alliance program has been launched. The “WODA” program targets the local hospitals and community centers who reside in the West Orange Healthcare District and who are at or below 100% of the poverty level. WODA is now making emergent dental care available to qualifying residents of the West Orange area, with a goal to keep residents who are without dental insurance or the means to afford dental care out of the ER.
With the support from our community, the West Orange Dental Alliance is able to coordinate with our caring local dental providers who have graciously volunteered to participate in this program. They serve the programs patients in their offices that helps create smiles that give hope and improve lives.
The program has most recently implemented a “Jump Start” Program aiming to reach patients to become “Restorable to Employable”. The goal is to offer dental restorations/treatment to bring the patient/job seeker back to a healthy smile so that they have the best possible chance to get a job or a better one at that.
Please visit www.wodentalalliance.org for more information.
Tue, January 23, 2018
Happy New Year everyone! I hope and pray that 2018 will be filled with all the best for you and your family. As much as I am looking forward to this New Year, I am doing so through the context of the year past. Since I was sworn into office in December of 2016, 2017 represented my first full year in office. Much of what we did was expected, but there were some notable exceptions, such as Hurricane Irma. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of what we did in the District 1 office this past year and some of what we began in 2017 that will carry over to 2018 and beyond.
While knocking on doors during the campaign it became clear to me that our large item pick up for waste removal was lacking and leaving many of you frustrated. I made a promise that I would begin a conversation aimed at improving our waste removal service. I did that and beginning this year you will no longer be required to call in to schedule pick up of your large items. It will now happen on a regular schedule. I hope this improvement in the service will make your life simpler.
Traffic is a constant challenge in our area, we are indeed growing at a rapid pace and while we welcome all of our new neighbors, we are working very hard to accommodate the additional traffic that accompanies this rapid growth. This year we requested and completed 121 traffic warrant studies and Traffic Engineering projects for everything from traffic signals to turn lanes and from crosswalks to speed bumps. We worked with our partners at the Sherriff's office to increase enforcement activities in areas of concern, we compelled developers to install traffic advisory signs to advise drivers as to speed and wildlife crossing and we brought the intersection of Tilden and Tiny roads to design for improvements. I am happy to say that we will also be breaking ground shortly on completing Hamlin Groves Trail giving more connectivity to the Bridgewater Middle School area. We also completed the Sand Lake Road study and will be identifying funding and implementing the recommendations. We have begun the Reams Road study from Summerlake Park Boulevard to Taborfield Avenue, and look forward to implementing those recommendations as well. We have funded and scheduled improvements to much of our infrastructure including Summerlake and Ficquette roads. This is just a sampling of the attention we are giving to transportation projects and we have much still left to do but we are moving in the right direction.
I also shared your concern regarding adequate staffing for our law enforcement. That is why I am proud that our Board of County Commissioners voted for the largest one time pay increase for our Sheriff's officers and authorized the hiring of more law enforcement positions. We are fortunate to have such fine men and women working to protect us and I am proud to be able to support them.
As we grow in this area it is imperative that we preserve our natural world and natural beauty as well. I have worked hard to ensure that developers preserve wetlands and to set aside lands for parks and recreation. This past year we broke ground on 2 new parks in District 1, including our first ever joint use park with Orange County Public Schools, the Deputy Scott Pine Park. I am excited about this new way of partnering with OCPS and look forward to more of this type of creative solution. We were also able to dedicate a picnic pavilion at the John's Lake Conservation area. If you haven't been out to take a look at this hidden gem, please do so, and take your kayak as we have wonderful launch facilities to offer as well.
Speaking of parks, we have a wonderful opportunity with the Horizon West Regional Park. This 200+ acre park (about a 1/3 of the size of New York's Central Park) can serve as an incredible regional amenity to the entire County. At my request Orange County staff prepared a presentation for my board to outline the park's history and possible next steps. As a result we will be releasing a request for qualifications shortly for a master planner to help us determine the highest and best use for the park and to identify funding sources. The ultimate goal is to create a park unlike any other in the area that will have world class amenities right here in our area.
Finally, I had much to learn in terms of preparing the community for the largest hurricane ever to hit the State of Florida. With the lessons learned I initiated a board discussion and worked with staff, building industry representatives and my fellow commissioners, and we have now updated our building code to include storm preparation requirements for builders. I also learned much about debris pick up in gated vs. non gated communities. Taking those lessons I have started a dialogue with my board and we have directed staff to come back to us with solutions that would offer the same level of service for storm debris pick up regardless of whether you live in a gated community or not.
There are thousands of emails and call that we have received throughout the year. The outline above is just a sampling of the many items we have worked on this year. When I campaigned for office I was determined to ensure that this office served the needs of the community while making wise use of our resources. While there is always room for improvement, I believe that we are focused every day on the needs of District 1. Welcome to the New Year! There is still much to do but we have a good start.
Tue, January 23, 2018
Hello, I am Joe Alarie, the 2018 Chairman of the West Orange Chamber. As a longtime member of the Chamber and the Board, I have been proud to watch the Chamber continue to grow and evolve. I have had the opportunity to serve on the board since 2003, and previously served as Director of Human Resources on the Executive Committee. I am excited to contribute my ideas as the Chamber marches forward into this new era, and I know I have a great Board of Directors working alongside me to lead the way.
We have plenty of great business-building opportunities coming up, starting with this Friday, January 26 at The Big Orange Awards. This event is one to look forward to every year, as the Chamber honors the accomplishments and triumphs of some of its most admired and inspirational members. I hope to see many of you there.
Mark your calendar for Best Fest on March 8, hosted once again by our friends at the City of Ocoee on the shore of Starke Lake. For all of our restaurant members, now is the time to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to showcase the culinary delights that will have attendees rushing to your doors for more.
I know that 2018 is going to be a successful year for you and all of our West Orange Chamber members. I look forward to seeing you at future events and programs. If you ever need assistance, please do not hesitate to talk to me or the Chamber Team.
Tue, January 09, 2018
It's time to put your New Year’s Resolutions for your business into action, here is how to get started! You probably have been receiving emails from the West Orange Chamber for months but haven’t found the right time or know how to move forward with your membership – until now.
Membership in the WOCC can help you check the following resolutions off your list:
Join a business organization
Business growth, community connection through networking, marketing and education are reasons why businesses join organizations. There are many out there but why not be a part of the best with over 1100+ members and named Best Chamber in the State of Florida three consecutive times? Your membership is also tax deductible, don’t forget to claim your Chamber membership as a business expense!
Promote your business on a regular basis
Members and other potential customers can find you through the WOCC business directory and the print business directory (Discover Magazine). Connect with others at 100+ networking opportunities as well as remote benefits online. Advertise and sponsor in the bi-weekly e-publication, events or social media.
Give back to your community
Being a member of your local Chamber gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the bigger picture of business, contributing to the growth and success of your fellow new and long standing businesses. Always utilize Chamber members when in need of a product or service and they will do the same for your business, simple as that; support your business community and they will support you!
Be a business mentor or receive business advice from others
Experienced business owners have a wealth of knowledge, why not meet at an event or in a guest article to share ideas and suggestions? Each year, our members are encouraged to write an industry expert article about what you know best and are published on wochamber.com and/or LinkedIn.
Learn something to help advance your business
Several times per year, the Chamber offers classes and/or programs to help increase your business acumen. Members are often the expert presenters in a welcoming and casual atmosphere where questions and feedback are encouraged.
Utilize social media to expand your audience
Be a part of the Chamber’s social media and share information and exciting news about your business. Like and comment on others’ posts, write an article for LinkedIn, let us retweet your tweets and share your videos while we tag it back to you!
Know your prospective customers on a personal level
On the golf course during Golf Networking Group and Golf Classic Tournament, over a dessert at Best Fest, celebrating excellence at the Big Orange Awards. Over 100 networking events give you the opportunity to expand your business relationships face to face and with a handshake.
Let your Chamber advocate on your behalf
Advocacy is key! The Chamber takes your concerns to Tallahassee to positively affect your business. We have been successful in making a difference for over 45 years and continue to be your voice, your membership supports the positive West Orange business climate.
Mon, January 08, 2018
Christensen Financial - The English Mortgage Team
Floribra USA, Inc.
Rob Panepinto - Candidate for Orange County Mayor
Paradise Barbershop & Spa
Holland Properties, Inc.
Jose A. Cantero P.A.
Tony's Liquors Inc.
Joseph J. McClellan
Theodore H. VanDeventer
Tue, January 02, 2018
The City of Ocoee’s Community Grant applications will be available at Ocoee.org beginning January 2, 2018. Residents may also pick up an application at Ocoee City Hall located at 150 North Lakeshore Drive. The deadline to submit applications is January 31, 2018.
The Community Grant program, held in January and July, provides financial grants of up to $500. There is $5,000 available for this grant cycle.
Groups that are eligible to apply for a grant are Ocoee non-profit organizations and civic groups. In addition, non-profit organizations and civic groups outside the city limits, which benefit residents of Ocoee, are also qualified to apply for a Community Grant. The city awards the grants to acknowledge excellence and to further the contributions these local organizations bring to the Ocoee community. Completed applications should be mailed or delivered to City Hall, Community Relations, 150 North Lakeshore Drive.
The applications are reviewed and ranked by the Community Grant Review Board, a group of residents appointed by the Ocoee City Commission. The Community Grant Review Board makes a recommendation to the City Commission on which organizations to fund. The City Commission then makes the final decision. The next grant cycle begins on July 2, 2018.
For information, call 407-905-3100.
Tue, December 19, 2017
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) announced today that Unicorp National Developments, Inc. has taken advantage of the highly beneficial Supporting Trustee level of membership.
Unicorp National Developments, Inc. is headed by one of the industry leaders, Chuck Whittall. From modest beginnings, and with the help of a hand-picked dream team of professionals behind him, this visionary has built one of the most dynamic and fastest growing development companies in the country. With the mission of building the best quality projects, moving quickly and decisively to close deals and move projects forward to completion, Unicorp assures delivery of exceptional results time and time again.
This investment will further support the integration and presence of Unicorp within central Florida and West Orange County. The Chamber’s Supporting Trustees benefit from increased levels of exposure, while providing the Chamber with additional financial stability. Learn more about Trustee level membership and all the ways that the WOCC, the 2015 Florida Chamber of the Year, can facilitate opportunities for your business at wochamber.com.
Tue, December 19, 2017
By Keith Bradford, WOCC Chairman
It is hard to believe that we are already wrapping up this milestone 45th year of building business and facilitating opportunity at the West Orange Chamber. The Chamber reached new heights in 2017, as our membership continued to grow, premier events were bigger and better than ever, and we advocated for causes that will positively influence our members and the business community.
At the Member Celebration Brunch on December 8, I handed off the Chairman’s gavel to Joe Alarie, so this will be the last of my articles as the Chamber Chairman. This wraps up a truly remarkable stretch for me, as I’ve been able to play a role in the 45th anniversary celebration not only here at the Chamber, but also at Walt Disney World. However, I am excited to welcome Joe Alarie to the Chairman’s role. He is a longtime board member and a fixture here in our community, and I know he will provide the Chamber with strong, smart leadership.
The Chamber’s leadership team is key to the ongoing success of this organization, so we are tremendously grateful to those business leaders who give of their time and talents to serve on the Chamber Board. During our Membership Breakfast we recognized a number of our board members who helped lead this organization over the course of this past year. We also said goodbye to outgoing board members, including Kurt Ardaman, Commissioner Bryan Nelson, David Billsborough, Amanda Maggard and Jaclyn Whiddon. We sincerely appreciate those board members for their service and dedication throughout their terms.
We also welcomed a group of incoming board members to help lead the Chamber into the future. Scott Boyd, Paul McNamara and Lynn Walker Wright have joined the Board of Directors for 2018. These new board members will add their unique ideas and talents to further facilitate opportunities for Chamber members.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Chamber Team, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season as we look forward to a successful and happy New Year. Merry Christmas!
Tue, December 19, 2017
As we wrap up this momentous 45th year of Facilitating Opportunity in West Orange County, we now begin to look toward the bright future of our prospering business community.
The West Orange Chamber works to strengthen its business members and the challenges they face in today's dynamic economy. It is with this demand in mind that we are retooling our strategic plan to align with the needs of the local marketplace and respond to state and national trends that impact the business climate. There are two key areas of focus. The first is our newly launched West Orange Foundation, created to support important causes, workforce development and education initiatives.
The second is the Growth Matters campaign, our plan to create a work and gathering space environment that will enhance the program support of our WOCC members and our community. In anticipation of the continued strong growth of the West Orange business community, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce is seeking to create a state-of-the-art interior with expanded meeting areas, new member service stations, upgrades to the building’s exterior, and accommodations for a growing staff to meet members’ needs.
We look forward to sharing more information on the progress of these important endeavors as we enter 2018 and beyond!
Tue, December 19, 2017
Stark Strategic Solutions-Recognition and Event Consulting
First Class Livery Services, Inc.
Arthur Slowe & Associates, P.A.
Tue, December 19, 2017
This fall's West Orange Foundation Thanksgiving Drive was the most successful to date, as members volunteered funds, food and time to provide baskets for 115 families in need here in the West Orange community! Contributors who helped make this project possible included Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, BB&T, Sam's Club, Walmart and Publix, along with many from our Board of Directors, ambassadors, networking groups and several other members. Our sincere thanks go out to Linda Osterberg for once again leading this wonderful program!
Wed, December 13, 2017
The City of Ocoee recently passed an ordinance allowing for the sale and service of alcohol on Sunday to begin at 7:00am for restaurants and lodging properties. Previously, sales before 11:00am were prohibited.
The ordinance that passed was spearheaded by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC), which led efforts to bring the city’s ordinances in line with the surrounding communities. The Chamber has been in regular communication with city leaders and owners of affected businesses, leading the way for passage of these changes.
The amendment to the ordinance mirrors changes made by Orange County and surrounding communities, and prevents current and future Ocoee businesses from being placed in an economically disadvantageous position. With large-scale development on the horizon for downtown Ocoee and along State Road 50, the new ordinance allows the city to maintain a competitive position to attract new businesses.
“We believe by supporting this amendment, we are facilitating opportunity for many of our Ocoee members by increasing their competitiveness in the market,” said Stina D’Uva, WOCC President/CEO. “We will continue to work with our local government leaders to create a stronger West Orange business community.”
Tue, December 05, 2017
As the end of the year is upon us, it is easy to overspend and get overwhelmed. The average person in Central Florida will spend more than $900 on the holidays and that is in gifts alone! What about business? Remember there are many options out there, but your Chamber membership is an investment we hope you feel just as good about as we do. Many people are tempted to “start the year” or “get a fresh start in the new year.” It is easy to wrap our heads around the symbolic freshness of 1/1. Here are a few reasons it may be better to join or renew at the end of the year for business expenses:
Tue, December 05, 2017
One of the West Orange Chamber's highest honors is the award of Lifetime Director. The executive committee of the chamber, upon due consideration of a board member’s accomplishments on behalf of the chamber, may recommend a past board member in good-standing for a lifetime director award. A lifetime director receives complimentary membership for his/her lifetime, a plaque, his/her name added to the perpetual plaque, and is granted attendance to all board meetings.
The West Orange Chamber's Lifetime Directors are: William "Bill" Breeze, Alton Julian, Neal Harris, Kay Behrens, Jim Neumayer, Russ Salerno, Julie Kleffel, Dr. Diane Trees, Richard Irwin and James K. Densmore.
Tue, December 05, 2017
The Cities of Ocoee and Winter Garden have played a vital role throughout the West Orange Chamber's history. During the days of the formation of Chamber, efforts were taken to ensure that both cities would be well represented, and a central location was sought for the Chamber office, which was quickly found on State Road 50 near the border of the two cities, where the organization still resides today. Each city has worked closely with the Chamber over the years, and many Chamber events are hosted and sponsored by the two cities today.
Tue, December 05, 2017
The West Orange Chamber's Chairman of the Board serves in a one-year term as the leader of the Board of Directors. The Chairman leads the organization by promoting the Chamber and its initiatives, and formulating policies and programs that further the business community. Over the years, many of West Orange's most recognizable names have served in this leadership role.
|1972 - Joe Walker||1973 - Jerry Kennedy||1974 - George Bailey|
|1975 - William Breeze||1976 - Ernie Johnson||1977 - Mervin Lee|
|1978 - Doris Grimes||1979 - Robert Elrod||1980 - Dan Dummett|
|1981 - Bob Barber||1982 - Tim Lawyer||1983 - Charles Godley|
|1984 - JoAnne Quarles||1985 - Gerald Weeks||1986 - Wanda Hatley|
|1987 - John Cope||1988 - Roy Hester||1989 - Walter Toole|
|1990 - Jerry Baker||1991 - Greg Collison||1992 - Walt Cobb|
|1993 - Dan Petro||1994 - Paul Lewis||1995 - Larry Cappleman|
|1996 - Lynn Walker Wright||1997 - Derek Blakeslee||1998 - Richard Irwin|
|1999 - John Terrell||2000 - Ken Cone||2001 - Kay Behrens|
|2002 - Carolyn Cappleman||2003 - Neil Harris||2004 - Kurt Ardaman|
|2005 - Jim Neumayer||2006 - Pam Gould||2007 - Russ Salerno|
|2008 - Julie Kleffel||2009 - Diane Trees||2010 - Jim Densmore|
|2011 - Michael Waldrop||2012 - David Sylvester||2013 - David Billsborough|
|2014 - Lynetta Tipton Steed||2015 - Debbie Clements||2016 - Robert Maphis|
|2017 - Keith Bradford|
Tue, November 28, 2017
The West Orange Dental Alliance has implemented a “JUMP START” program to help residents obtain better dental health and employment.
Once the Alliance has treated a patient’s emergent issue, they are able to apply for the “Jump Start” Program. This program is based upon board approval, which can provide restorative dental treatment to patients that have the drive to get a job or a better one at that!
Tue, November 28, 2017
Reed Nissan has been recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Florida Chapter (AFP-FC) with the Corporate and Foundation Engagement award in observance of National Philanthropy Day.
Reed Nissan was recognized for its local community involvement, support of human and animal welfare groups and substantial corporate financial giving. The dealership is well known for annual projects such as “Reed Gives Back to the Community Day,” (which awards new vehicles to deserving young people from within Central Florida’s foster care system) and “Paws In The Park” (which encourages pet adoption while raising public awareness and financial support to help shelter pets in need).
“We are humbled and honored to accept this recognition on behalf of the 250 employees throughout our company who participate in our many philanthropic and community service endeavors,” said Aaron Hill, general manager of Reed Nissan and Reed Nissan Clermont. “Of course, none of this would be possible without the patronage of our valued customers who have done business with our dealerships over the years. This award is really about them as well.”
Reed was among other honorees at this year's 32nd Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards, which took place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at the prestigious Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes.
“National Philanthropy Day acknowledges the entire spectrum of services that the non-profit, civic and service sectors provide, as well as the profound impact that philanthropy has on the fabric of society,” said Ashley Hickman, director of development for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and a volunteer with the Central Florida Chapter of AFP.
The “Orlando Health Corporate & Foundation Engagement” honor is presented to corporations, corporate or public foundations that are active in philanthropy in Central Florida, and is instrumental in encouraging others to be involved.
See website: http://www.afpcentralflorida.org/npd/
About Reed Nissan
For nearly 70 years, Floridians have come to respect Reed Nissan’s commitment to excellent customer service which has led to seven Circle of Excellence Awards -- the only large volume dealership to receive this prestigious honor from Nissan North America. By building relationships with customers and the community, Reed Nissan and Reed Nissan Clermont continue to grow as a family business and as a top Nissan dealership. www.reednissan.com
Tue, November 28, 2017
CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) has completed its acquisition of Level 3 Communications, Inc. The combination of CenturyLink and Level 3 creates a leading global network services company capable of providing customers a wide range of high-quality technology solutions over a secure and reliable fiber-rich network.
The combined company, with estimated pro forma revenue of $24 billion for the trailing twelve months ended June 30, 2017 (excluding revenue related to CenturyLink’s May 1, 2017, colocation business sale and including estimated intercompany eliminations and purchase accounting adjustments), anticipates that approximately 75 percent of its core revenue will come from business customers and nearly two-thirds of its core revenue will come from strategic services. CenturyLink’s network now connects more than 350 metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 fiber-enabled, on-net buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America.
Visit www.level3isnowcenturylink.com to learn more about the new CenturyLink.
“CenturyLink is now poised to offer an expanded, robust portfolio of communications solutions focused on our customers’ networking and IT services needs,” said Glen F. Post III, CenturyLink’s chief executive officer. “Our customers, from individual consumers to global enterprises, will benefit from our expanded, innovative network solutions, our complementary managed services and our highly talented workforce.”
CenturyLink is now even better positioned to:
“Our goal is to be the world’s best networking provider and we have the ability to achieve this as one company,” said Jeff Storey, CenturyLink’s president and chief operating officer. “CenturyLink is focused on providing a differentiated experience for our customers, while driving profitable growth and increasing free cash flow per share. Our scale and experience will enable us to deliver on behalf of our customers, employees and our shareholders.”
Holders of Level 3 common stock as of immediately prior to closing are entitled to receive $26.50 per share in cash (without interest) and 1.4286 shares of CenturyLink stock for each Level 3 share they owned. CenturyLink shareholders now own approximately 51 percent and former Level 3 stockholders now own approximately 49 percent of the combined company. CenturyLink remains headquartered in Monroe, La., with a key operational presence in Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area.
Mon, November 27, 2017
The Community Trustee program, a top-tier investment level within the Chamber, represents the premier organizations and companies in West Orange county and neighboring communities. Through tailored programming, the Chamber provides these members with social and political networking, increased branding opportunities and recognition at all Chamber events. This is a premier membership designed to connect community leaders and other executives with benefits and services geared to meet the challenges of today's business.
The success of the Community Trustee program heralded the creation of the Supporting Trustee program. This membership provides a much defined, highly valuable array of benefits provided to heighten their exposure within West Orange County and beyond. The Supporting Trustee level enables these members to unite in our shared vision of preparing and developing local businesses and the community for a better tomorrow.
Mon, November 27, 2017
The Small Business Development Team (SBDT) exists to provide small business owners, their managers and employees with the tools, resources and network to enhance their businesses. They accomplish this goal by offering existing Chamber members a vast selection of educational, networking and fundamental business events, such as the Lead and Feed and Lunch and Learn programs. This committee is tasked with gathering member feedback and suggestions for upcoming event topics and speakers and bringing those programs to light.
Mon, November 27, 2017
The Ambassadors are the goodwill representatives of the West Orange Chamber. They are easily recognized in their red jackets. Ambassadors play a key role for the Chamber, serving as the hosts of many functions, including ribbon cuttings, anniversary celebrations, Business After Hours and other events. They also promote Chamber programs, projects and activities to current and prospective members. Click here to learn more about the current Ambassador committee.
Fri, November 24, 2017
J&J Building, LLC
Promise Communities Services of FL, Inc.
Tue, November 14, 2017
The West Orange Trail has played a vital role in the economic expansion of West Orange County, particularly the rejuvenation of historic downtown Winter Garden, where the trail runs right down the middle of Plant Street. Nearly every day, you'll find hundreds of walkers, joggers, cyclists and skaters enjoying the trail.
The trail stretches nearly 22 miles, from the Orange/Lake county line near Oakland to Welch Road in Apopka, passing through Winter Garden and Ocoee along the way. It also connects to the South Lake Trail, providing easy access to Clermont and Minneola to the west. It will provide an important link in the Coast-to-Coast Connector, a system of interlinked trails that will cross the state, connecting St. Petersburg to Titusville.
Tue, November 14, 2017
For over 17 years, the Committee of One Hundred and One (C101) has supported projects and local nonprofit organizations who positively contribute to our community.
Membership in the C101 is limited to only those who demonstrate the most substantial, positive influence or leadership in West Orange County and membership is limited to one hundred and one members. Selection as a member of C101 will only be able to occur after nomination by two C101 board members, screening of the nominee and final approval by the C101 Board. Membership in C101 offers private social gatherings and interactions with other influential members of the committee.
Tue, November 14, 2017
OCOEE, Fla. – Applications for the City of Ocoee’s Most Valuable Partnership Grants are now available. Ocoee homeowner associations and civic groups may submit projects which beautify neighborhoods, address public safety concerns, or foster cultural, recreational, or educational wants and needs of the neighborhood or organization. There is $12,000 available and the maximum grant award is $2,000.
The deadline to submit applications is November 30. Applications will be available online at www.ocoee.org or at the City Hall reception desk. Completed applications should be mailed or delivered to City Hall, Community Relations,150 North Lakeshore Drive, Ocoee, Florida, 34761.
The goal of the Most Valuable Partnership Grant Program is to improve the quality of life in Ocoee by assisting residents and organizations in making improvements to their neighborhoods or creating programs which benefit citizens.
For more information on the MVP Grant Program, visit www.ocoee.org or call 407- 905-3100.
Tue, November 14, 2017
Confession: As you are fighting the crowds at [insert favorite Black Friday mega store here], you break away and it dawns on you - “Small Business Saturday!” It may have been an afterthought in the past, but get ahead of the curve this year and think of it FIRST! Support your neighbors, friends, community by shopping small next Saturday, November 25. Even before and beyond this event, keep the holiday dollars in your business community by shopping with Chamber members first, because they are the ones that are supporting you too!
On Thanksgiving weekend we should be thankful for family, friends AND community, and Small Business Saturday offers a perfect opportunity to show our gratitude. We can make a difference but it starts with small choices; Small Business Saturday and the West Orange Community encourages you to shop small and local brick and mortar businesses. Keep an eye on the WOCC Facebook page in the coming days as we show you how to access your business directory and we list our participating small business members. Feel good about getting your holiday shopping done early while supporting your fellow West Orange businesses. This is where we work, play AND shop! Visit the WOCC business directory on the web or using our mobile site!
Tue, November 14, 2017
By Carlos Perez
Principal, Perez Technology Group
Small business owners by nature wear many hats to run and manage their businesses. In many cases those responsibilities, while crucial to the operation of the business, are not the primary focus of the businesses. One of these functions is running the technology aspect of a small business or relying on internal staff to update, upkeep and maintain their IT despite technology not being their specific area of expertise.
With the challenges business owners face today and the importance technology has on running the business, the important access to data has on meeting client needs, many small business owners are seeking ways to outsource their technology. However, concerns such as lack of time, if their data will be secure, who to trust with their information, unknown costs, often paralyze business owners into inaction. This is actually worse as existing IT infrastructure becomes obsolete and there is an increasing demand to have access to a company’s data at any time, from any platform and from anywhere.
Here are some tips for small business owners seeking to outsource their IT services or those who may be looking to make a switch to a more efficient and cost-effective provider:
Conduct an IT Assessment with a reputable and unbiased IT expert
An IT audit should look at the needs of the business based on its mission, vision, goals, market and evaluate if the existing IT infrastructure is meeting those needs or not, and recommend cost-effective solutions as part of the IT Assessment findings report.
Understand that cloud and mobile technology can be leveraged to enhance the growth and development of your business at a lower cost.
Many SMB’s believe that outsourcing their technology means the need to purchase expensive hardware & services. This is not always the case as cloud services actually eliminate the need for costly hardware such as servers and routers, while providing all the security, data back up and access a business needs to compete and succeed.
Recognize it may actually cost you more to manage your IT in-house
Every hour a business owner devotes to managing his or her own IT is an hour not devoted to customer service, to new business development, to product and service improvements, to managing staff and other vital operations of the business. A small business owners time is more valuable and better spent on their core business and attending to customers than in running, updating their IT or trying to rectify IT issues.
Tue, October 24, 2017
The Chamber’s Lead and Feed Networking Lunch is an easygoing, no stress, informal event that has grown exponentially over the years. The concept is simple: 1.) Show up ready to build relationships 2.) Network with your fellow Chamber members. Easy, right? We pass around the "roaming mic," and everyone in attendance has the opportunity to stand up and tell us their name and a little about their business. Members enjoy a terrific lunch at this Chamber Member restaurant and make some new contacts. Find the next Lead and Feed by visiting our event calendar!
Tue, October 24, 2017
Manheim Orlando is a longtime Chamber member, joining in 1980. The company has been an active supporter of many Chamber events, and was the host of the 2016 Hob Nob & Straw Poll. Manheim was established in 1945 as a wholesale vehicle auction operation and continues to set the industry standard for buying and selling used vehicles today.
Tue, October 24, 2017
Each fall, Chamber members link up at one of our member golf courses for a relaxing day of building business in the beautiful outdoors at the WOCC Golf Classic. Sponsors are placed throughout the course to add entertainment to your round, and countless prizes are up for grabs over the course of the day. To learn more about this year's event, to be held Nov. 3 at Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge, click here!
Tue, October 24, 2017
The newly-formed West Orange Foundation held its inaugural reception on Thursday, October 12 at Lake Meadow Naturals in Ocoee. At the event, the foundation presented the recipients of the 2017-18 West Orange Committee of 101 (C101) grant awards.
C101 member fund donations are distributed as grants to organizations that fit the mission of the West Orange Foundation and improve the community. Over the years, C101 has distributed over $235,000 to worthy community charities, including the West Orange Chamber’s building purchase.
This year’s grants were awarded to:
The West Orange Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that serves as the community-based, philanthropic arm of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC). The Foundation’s vision is to create a broader community reach, streamline the Chamber’s philanthropy and community outreach programs, engage more industries & businesses, create and embolden alliances and foster positive change, health and growth. It will support many WOCC philanthropic initiatives, including its adult and youth leadership programs, scholarships for local students, community-need projects, educational Chamber events and the Committee of 101 (C101) grant program.
Tue, October 24, 2017
Colleen Healy, Massage Therapist
Sweet, Sassy & Southern
Green River Group Inc.
Patricia L Gleason
Mon, October 23, 2017
By Clinton Pownall
CEO, Computer Business Consultants, Inc.
Equifax Inc. (EFX), one of the world’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies, discovered in July 2017 they had a major security breach and did not report it until several months later on September 8th 2017. Equifax collects and aggregates information on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide. Reported compromised were 143 million consumer records containing personal information containing names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers, and 209,000 consumer credit card numbers.
The hackers responsible for the breach used an exploited and patched security vulnerability known to exist in industry standard common website hosting software. The vulnerability the hackers used, along with the patch release, were announced months before Equifax’s July 2017 web server hack. To further compound Equifax’s culpable behavior, as soon as the hackers exploited the vulnerability, they guessed the admin password, Argentina, within minutes.
So what should you do?
1. Visit Equifax’s site to check if your personal information was accessed in this hack.
Given there were 143 million Equifax records compromised and a large number of Americans are credit invisible, the odds are if you participate in America’s Capitalism game, Equifax handed the hackers your information.
2. If your information was compromised then enroll in Equifax’s credit monitoring. However, there is a BIG caveat. Equifax’s credit monitoring arbitration clause in its Terms of Service prevent you from joining a class action suit. Arbitration clauses like Equifax’s are supposed to be on their way out. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a ban on them this summer, but its new rules won’t apply until next year, and Republican lawmakers are trying to repeal them altogether. For now, the one existing loophole is Equifax’s opt-out provision: Within 30 days of agreeing to the terms of the enrollment, you can deliver a written notice to this address:
Equifax Consumer Services LLC
Attn.: Arbitration Opt-Out
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, GA 30348
Include your name, address, Equifax User ID, and a clear statement that you, “want to opt out of resolving disputes with Equifax through arbitration.”
Businesses need an IT business partner that can handle the IT needs and provide the necessary network security. Today’s IT Managed Service Providers must be proactive in their ability to assess and prevent new threats. If the Equifax hack has shown us anything it is very few IT companies and IT staff are able to meet those requirements on their own.
Mon, October 16, 2017
1. Expand your network and build your business.
Over 100 West Orange business leaders are expected to participate in the event. Make connections and expand your network in a relaxed, low-pressure environment.
2. Experience one of the area's top golf courses.
If you are looking for the best golf in Central Florida and want to experience the finest course layouts, conditions and facilities, look no further than Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge. It is ranked as the #1 public course in Florida and #2 in the entire U.S.!
3. Take advantage of an unbelievable value.
Your Golf Classic registration includes: 18 holes w/cart, range balls to get warmed up before your round, lunch as you head out, drink tickets on and off the course, multiple chances to win great prizes, a catered awards reception after the tournament and more!
4. Countless event partnership opportunities.
5. Enjoy a beautiful Friday outside the office.
It's hard to beat the early November weather in West Orange. Average temperatures hover in the high 70s with plenty of sunshine expected!
6. Plenty of chances to win.
Your chances of winning a fantastic prize doesn't end when you turn in your scorecard. In addition to awards for our leaders on the course, our event partners are giving you plenty of chances to bid on amazing silent auction items or win a door prize!
7. It's the most fun you can have on a work day!
The end of the year is nearing and we could all use a break from the daily routine. Why not enjoy a Friday on the links with friends and potential business partners? Our hole sponsors will be whipping up special treats around the course, golfers can participate in all kinds of contests and we'll be sharing our favorite moments on social media for all to enjoy.
Tue, October 10, 2017
Here in Orange County, workforce development is an increasingly important topic. The economy is thriving and businesses continue to flock to the Orlando area, but are we as a community doing enough to provide qualified employees to fill these jobs?
Many students are not aware of the nearly limitless possibilities available to them. While it is often assumed that a four-year college degree is the only path to a successful career, there are many tracks students can take. College certainly provides a wealth of opportunities. Right here in our area, UCF and Valencia College are providing opportunity to thousands of students each year. Alternatively, many students are finding success through technical programs, like those offered at Orange Technical College, where they are learning valuable skills that put them on a fast track to a great job.
On November 15, business leaders have the opportunity to reach students directly via the annual OCPS Teach-In program. Participants can take advantage of this unique opportunity to become a teacher for the hour, showcasing some of the qualities they are looking for in their next great employee, while inspiring students and getting them to start thinking about their next steps after school. Learn more about this valuable program at www.foundationforocps.org.
Tue, October 10, 2017
Hurricane Irma was difficult on Orlando. However, despite the wind and rain, West Orange Chamber members came together to help and support each other before, during and after the hurricane. Before the storm, the Chamber referred all members in their respective categories, connected members offering services to anyone asking for services; facilitating water, generators, assistance in clearing and cutting trees, evacuation locations for pets and people and local information on storm preparedness. After the storm, members wanted to know how to help each other and how, which launched the Chamber’s four-day connectedness campaign on social media. The West Orange Chamber team called members personally to check on them and see if they were in need or offering help after Irma, and connected those in need of help with those who could help.
From clearing storm debris, repairing or replacing roofs, repairing screens, seeking financial assistance for storm relief, handyman jobs, car repair, donations/volunteers/supplies for the non-profits, finding places to stay for those without water or power, or simply sharing ice, many members offered priority, discounted or complimentary services for each other. It is truly inspiring to see everyone come together and support their fellow community members. We are proud of our West Orange Chamber community for truly #FacilitatingOpportunity.
A few of the many examples of Chamber members coming together:
Tue, October 10, 2017
The Karaoke Clash After Hours (formerly known as the Elected Official Sing-Off) has long been one of the Chamber's premiere events, offering local and state representatives to meet in a friendly environment and show off their ability to perform on the big stage. This year, elected officials from all over West Orange will gather on November 1 at CityWalk’s Rising Star™ in Universal CityWalk™ at Universal Orlando Resort™ to compete for the prized trophy!
Tue, October 10, 2017
Bright House Networks/Spectrum is one of the Chamber's original members, joining in 1972. The company is one of the area's leading television and internet providers, and has been a partner on many Chamber events over the years. The organization also holds naming rights at the UCF football stadium, now named Spectrum Stadium.
Tue, September 26, 2017
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it has been heartwarming to see the strength of the West Orange County community on full display. During this crisis, we have continued to see our Chamber organizations provide help wherever needed by offering supplies and services to those in need. Fundraising efforts are underway and our community has come together to get through this difficult time and come back stronger than ever!
Of course, it doesn’t take a disaster to bring out the best side of our Chamber members. We regularly see Chamber members take on charitable and philanthropic initiatives that deal with causes close to their hearts, or which make their community a better place. We generally believe that working toward these causes is good for our business as well, but the impact can be difficult to quantify.
On October 11, join us for our latest Business Before Hours event to enjoy a special panel discussion on “Doing Good is Good Business.” Our panel will be led by Mark Brewer, President/CEO of the Central Florida Foundation. He will lead a discussion on the value of philanthropic ventures, both for the community and for your business, featuring Chamber members Paul McNamara – Reed Nissan Clermont, Gary Shif – Best Cleaners and Belinda Wilson – Ms. Bee’s Popcorn and Candy Shoppe. Join us for a look at how these Chamber members are making the most of their charitable efforts, and how these ideas could apply to your business.
Tue, September 26, 2017
Living Frames LLC
Mary Anderson CPA
Prud Homme Improvement
June Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Tue, September 26, 2017
Opened in 1908, Florida Hospital is a faith-based institution focused on providing whole person care. It is one of the largest not-for-profit hospitals in the country, caring for more than two million patient visits per year – more than any other hospital in the country, according to the American Hospital Association.
Since its opening in February of 2016, Florida Hospital Winter Garden has seen more than 25,000 patients, illustrating the need for health care options close to home for residents of west Orange County. Earlier this year, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark the hospital’s addition of a 72,000-square-foot medical office building. The building is expected to open in spring 2018.
Tue, September 26, 2017
Join Chairman Keith Bradford, President/CEO Stina D'Uva, and all of us at the West Orange Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Valencia College on 50 successful years, and many more to come! Learn more about Valencia's 50th Anniversary celebration by clicking here.
Thu, September 14, 2017
The U.S. Small Business Administration has added more counties to the disaster declaration in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017.
The disaster declaration covers the counties of Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia in Florida which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Levy and Nassau in Florida.
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.
Interest rates are as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by mobile device at m.fema.gov. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 9, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.
Tue, August 22, 2017
Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital, best known as West Orange County’s trusted healthcare partner for nearly 65 years, is a full-function, Joint Commission accredited hospital with services ranging from primary care and intensive care, to emergency care, and cancer care backed by a nationally renowned UF Health cancer center.
The hospital joined the Chamber in 1974 and is a major supporter of many Chamber events and programs. It was acquired as part of the Orlando Health network in 2012.
Tue, August 22, 2017
Orange Technical College, part of Orange County Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education Department, is a dynamic and innovative technical college that primarily serves Orange and adjacent Lake County. It plays a major role in the area's workforce development, and has been a part of the Chamber for nearly 40 years.
Orange Technical College offers day and evening classes in more than 18 full and part-time academic and technical programs. Adult Education classes, which consist of ESOL and GED classes, are available at the main campus and six off-campus sites, which include local schools and community centers.
Tue, August 22, 2017
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) announced today that Tim Cook of Florida Hospital has joined the organization’s Board of Directors.
Cook serves as the administrator of Florida Hospital Apopka. As Senior Vice President, he has overseen the construction and transition to the new Florida Hospital Apopka campus, which is expected to open in late 2017. He also oversees Florida Hospital Winter Garden, and is focused on offering complementary services at the two hospitals that will allow West Orange residents to get comprehensive medical care close to home.
The Chamber also took time to recognize Amanda Maggard for her dedication and service, as she steps down from the Board of Directors and Executive Committee to take on a new career opportunity outside the West Orange service area.
Joining the Executive Committee is Dawn Willis of Observer Media Group. Already a member of the Board, she will now serve as the organization’s Human Resources Director. Willis is the publisher of the Central Florida region of Observer Media Group, which includes the West Orange Times & Observer, Windermere Observer and Winter Park-Maitland Observer.
From left: Tim Cook, Amanda Maggard, Dawn Willis
Tue, August 22, 2017
Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is a winner of the 2017 Official SAT Practice All In Challenge, the first-ever award from the College Board, the Council of the Great City Schools, and Khan Academy. The award recognizes Council districts for encouraging and supporting students as they practice for the SAT and college-level courses using the free online SAT practice platform, Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy.
Orange County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara said, “Our students have accepted the challenge to be college-ready. This partnership with College Board and Khan Academy is a win-win, because students can concentrate on content where they need practice. We all know practice is one of the keys to success.”
Orange County Public Schools is one of only five Council districts to win the inaugural award, receiving the “Student: Proof of Practice” prize for the highest average weekly percentage of students with active Official SAT Practice accounts. Since the challenge began in December 2016, over 15,000 Orange County students each completed at least 20 hours on Official SAT Practice.
“There are many success stories to share about the hard work and incredible growth that our districts and students made through this challenge,” says Council Executive Director Michael Casserly. “We’re proud that Orange County Public Schools stepped up to the challenge and hope others will follow.”
Official SAT Practice features video lessons, thousands of interactive practice questions, nine full-length practice tests, and test-taking tips and strategies. By linking their College Board and Khan Academy accounts, students who've taken the SAT or a PSAT-related assessment in the past can unlock a custom practice plan and determine what areas to focus on.
“The PSAT is now a diagnostic for Khan Academy,” said Khan Academy founder Sal Khan. “If students share their PSAT score, Khan Academy can use that information to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and provide tailored practice in math, reading and writing.”
There are now more than four million users registered for Official SAT Practice. In May, the College Board announced research that showed that students who prepared for the SAT using Official SAT Practice have seen substantial score gains. Twenty hours of practice is associated with an average 115-point increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT, nearly double the average gain of students who do not use Official SAT Practice.
“Our partnership with the Council of the Great City Schools and Khan Academy is helping bring these free, highly personalized practice tools to every corner of the country,” said College Board President and CEO David Coleman. “But make no mistake: behind every story of a student practicing on Khan Academy and succeeding on the SAT is a caring adult. We applaud the community of leaders across Orange County Public Schools for their commitment to adopting these tools and propelling their students forward.”
As a part of the award, Orange County Public Schools will receive money to put towards initiatives that advance student success and opportunity, including post-secondary scholarships.
Tue, August 22, 2017
From July 31 through August 10, Shepherd’s Hope, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, hosted clinics on six dates for 18 hours with 40 clinicians providing 445 local uninsured and underinsured children free back-to-school physicals, an increase of 30% over the number provided in 2016 and an all-time high for the annual initiative.
Over the past four years, Shepherd’s Hope has provided back-to-school physicals for more than 765 children. This annual initiative assists families whose children need general health assessments and sports physicals (minus immunizations) as well as vision and hearing screenings with a Nemours specialist at select locations. In addition, mammogram screenings were available for women accompanying their children at the Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center location in conjunction with the Florida Hospital for Women Mobile Wellness Coach. The Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation helped to sponsor the initiative, which enabled the purchase of critical pediatric medical supplies.
“The record-breaking participation, combined with the fact that fifteen percent of the 445 children who received a back to school physical were referred for additional specialty care services, reinforce that the need for this initiative is both essential and increasing,” said Marni Stahlman, president and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope. “Our ability to deliver these critical resources to uninsured children and their families is only possible because of our partnerships with Nemours.” The health system has supported Shepherd’s Hope’s annual back-to-school physicals initiative since it launched in 2014.
Back-to- school physicals are a summertime ritual for school-aged children and their families. But, for the estimated 27,000 children in Central Florida who are uninsured, this annual rite of passage can be out of reach.
“We are honored to be part of a program that offers so many families the ability to start the school year off right,” said Dr. Al Torres, Chief of Critical Care at Nemours Children’s Hospital. “As a pediatric health system that is focused solely on children, we understand the importance of creating healthy habits early on in life.”
Shepherd’s Hope provides free primary and secondary medical services to the 1-in-4 Central Floridians who are uninsured or underinsured, including children, at five health center locations in Central Florida. An estimated 850,000 Floridians remain in a gray area ─ in the coverage “gap” in regards to insurance availability ─ earning too much to qualify for some programs, but not enough to afford products offered on the Healthcare.gov exchange, even with federal subsidies, because of out-of-reach deductibles and co-payments.
For more information on Shepherd’s Hope services, visit www.shepherdshope.org or call (407) 876-6699.
Mon, August 21, 2017
Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association
Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.
Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic
More Than Conquerors Counseling
Premier Sotheby’s International Realty
Shaklee - Nancy Brown
Stockworth Realty Group
West Orange Airport Authority
Age Advantage Senior Care Services
Bishman Surveying and Mapping, Inc.
Fresenius Medical Care - West Orlando
Hardee's Of Ocoee
High Line Car Sales, Inc.
Legacy Lifestyles Senior Housing Management
Sand Lake Dermatology Center
Tue, August 08, 2017
P.H. Freeman & Sons, Inc. is one of the Chamber's original members, joining in 1972. The citrus company has roots dating far back into the history of Winter Garden, having called the city home for nearly 50 years. The organization's original president, the late Robert Freeman, and his son, current president Richard, each have played an active role in the Florida citrus industry and throughout the community.
Tue, August 08, 2017
The University of Central Florida, a WOCC trustee, has been a member for over 20 years. It is one of the largest and fastest growing universities in the nation, with over 64,000 students. UCF is a leader in workforce development, and over 100,000 of its alumni still live and work in the Central Florida region.
UCF is active throughout the community, and is a fixture as both a participant and partner on numerous WOCC events.
Tue, August 08, 2017
Apply now to participate in the 2017-18 class of Leadership West Orange, presented by Florida Hospital Winter Garden. Leadership West Orange is an annual program that brings a group of Chamber members together for a variety of sessions. These sessions are held monthly and the primary mission is to raise the awareness of the key segments of the total West Orange community. Days are a combination of lectures, tours, hands-on experience and behind-the-scenes activities. Contact the Chamber about cost and enrollment.
The West Orange Adult Leadership program began in 1994 and has been experienced by more than 400 local leaders. The mission of the Leadership West Orange program is to raise the awareness of the key segments of the local community; “To educate business leaders to better serve the West Orange community; To develop leaders and build a quality community.” The education of our future leaders is very important in preserving our past, embracing our present and the visioning and planning of our future. Each month the class focused on a certain aspect of West Orange County. The class examines the environment, economic development, government, media, health care and education by participating in a field trip once a month.
Tue, August 08, 2017
There are many fish in the business community but how do you catch the right ones? One of the most important services the Chamber of Commerce offers our members is referrals but they do not come in the way, or the time frame most imagine. It is important to honor and match expectations accordingly; we act on your goals with results but step one is knowing your goals so we can best refer. So how DO you receive leads through the Chamber? How does it work? Each business is different and it depends on your goals; by communicating with your Chamber membership team, you increase your exposure as we are asked every day, “Who in the membership does…?”
We train the business community to mention they are members but sometimes there is a psychological block that relates to the perception of vocalizing membership means “asking for a discount” and many are embarrassed to mention they are members when seeking Chamber businesses. We encourage members to vocalize! Leave each other positive Facebook reviews, tag the Chamber, call or email each other and open with, “I am a Chamber member too,” show you are a connected, supportive and active part of your business community!
We connect and introduce members daily and all of our programs, events and remote benefits are designed to facilitate that opportunity to connect and grow those relationships and turn them into business.
Tue, August 08, 2017
The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation houses a wealth of West Orange County history and was recently designated as a Visit Florida Certified Travel Information Center (CTIC). The West Orange Chamber of Commerce facilitated the partnership between the Foundation and Visit Florida, the state’s public-private tourism agency.
The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation receives free recognition and brochure placement at the Visit Florida Welcome Center in Yulee on Interstate 95, promoting traffic to Winter Garden and West Orange County. The Winter Garden location will display Visit Florida signage distinguishing them as a partner. They also benefit from participation in an annual travel information seminar held by Visit Florida that addresses operations, marketing and public relations, policies and procedures, and breaking trends.
“Being a Certified Travel Information Center greatly expands the resources and marketing dollars needed to attract people from outside our area,” said Cynthia Cardona, executive director of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation. “We are so pleased to be a part of this new Visit Florida initiative and to see our achievements in keeping downtown Winter Garden and West Orange County authentic, distinctive, and alive appreciated by a wider audience.”
The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation is one of only five cultural organizations who met the requirements for availability and sustainability needed to participate in the program, along with the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, Miami Design Preservation League, and Osceola County Historical Society. The Foundation operates three locations in the heart of Winter Garden: The Heritage Museum, the History Research and Education Center and Visitors’ Center, which houses an extensive archive documenting the area’s past, and the Central Florida Railroad Museum, which showcases the enormous influence the railroad had in the development of Florida.
Since 1994, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation has been an integral part of the preservation and revitalization of Winter Garden and West Orange County and creating new cultural experiences. The Foundation is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization primarily funded by grants and donations. The Visitors’ Center is located at 21 E. Plant Street, Winter Garden, Fla., 34787. Hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit wghf.org or call (407) 656-3244. [OR] For more information, visit visitflorida.com or call (407) 656-3244. [Chamber number or contact info??]
ABOUT WEST ORANGE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Founded in 1972, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) serves as the leading business advocate in Central Florida by building partnerships, promoting economic growth in the community, and facilitating opportunities for its 1,000 member businesses. In 2009, 2012, and 2015, the WOCC received the prestigious State of Florida’s Chamber of the Year award.
ABOUT THE WINTER GARDEN HERITAGE FOUNDATION
The mission of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation is to preserve the heritage and architecture of West Orange County, while creating new cultural experiences. Since 1994, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation has been an integral part of the preservation and revitalization of historic downtown Winter Garden and fostering an understanding of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental transformations that have shaped West Orange County. Today, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation continues to accomplish its mission by operating three locations in the heart of Winter Garden: The Heritage Museum, the History Research and Education Center and Visitors’ Center, which houses an extensive archive documenting the area’s past, and the Central Florida Railroad Museum, which showcases the influence the railroad has had in the development of Florida.
ABOUT THE CITY OF WINTER GARDEN
Nestled on beautiful Lake Apopka about 30 minutes west of Orlando, Winter Garden is home to more than 30,000 residents and a wealth of West Orange County heritage and history. Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the downtown district is a favorite stop for cyclists on the West Orange Trail. Visitors enjoy outdoor dining at a variety of restaurants, resting on the swings surrounding the fountain, or browsing the unique shops.
Tue, August 08, 2017
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce announced the hire of Viviane Bispo as its new Member Relations Coordinator. Viviane is originally from Brazil, but has been living in Florida for almost 20 years with her husband and two children. She has a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising and she worked as Media Relations Manager from 16 years at Multimedia in Orlando, where she had built a relationship with media outlets worldwide.
“I am very excited to be a part of the West Orange Chamber Team. I look forward to meeting our members, community leaders and serving with the incredible Chamber team!”
Fri, July 28, 2017
As we enter the second half of the Chamber’s milestone 45th year, we continue to shift our focus from celebrating our accomplishments over the years to building another 45 prosperous years and beyond. As the West Orange region continues to grow, it is crucial that we create an environment that is a highly sought after place to live, work and play. With that in mind, I am excited to announce the formation of the West Orange Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that serves as the community-based, philanthropic arm of the West Orange Chamber.
The Foundation’s vision is to create a broader community reach, streamline the Chamber’s philanthropy and community outreach programs, engage more industries & businesses, create and embolden alliances and foster positive change, health and growth. It will support many WOCC philanthropic initiatives, including the West Orange Program for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs (W.O.P.T.E.), scholarships for area students, community-need projects, educational Chamber events and the Committee of 101 (C101) grant program.
The West Orange Foundation will be led by the initial Board of Directors: Rob Maphis – Collage Design and Construction Group, Joe Alarie – Alarie Design Associates, Tim Haberkamp – Hardee’s, Amanda Maggard – Florida Hospital, Debbie Clements – Duke Energy, Stina D’Uva – West Orange Chamber and myself. The organization is funded by the Chamber, its members and community support. Pam Gould of Advocate Enterprises assisted with the formation and strategic planning of the Foundation. We look forward to sharing more information with you about this exciting venture and its upcoming initiatives in the coming weeks.
Tue, July 25, 2017
The West Orange Political Alliance (W.O.P.A.) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization originally formed in December 1997 to provide the first formal political force focused on candidates and issues that are important to West Orange County. This organization focuses on issues, and primarily seeks and endorses candidates in county, school board and state offices that will further the business interests of West Orange County.
Since its formation, W.O.P.A. has endorsed, supported and assisted in the election of key proponents of business and West Orange County. Candidates seek and understand the value of endorsements by the alliance for the furtherance of their campaign efforts. W.O.P.A. is proud of its track record, which includes the election of notable West Orange County residents: Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, County Commissioners Scott Boyd, Betsy VanderLey and Bryan Nelson, Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, Orange County Public School Board Members Pam Gould and Christine Moore, State Representatives Eric Eisnaugle and Bruce Antone, and State Senator Randolph Bracy.
In addition to supporting qualified and competent candidates, W.O.P.A. has taken on issues that have had the potential of creating economic disadvantages to the West Orange community. Most recently, the organization supported changes in the Orange County Charter that allow for non-partisan elections, term limits, and a more transparent initiative petition process. W.O.P.A. was also victorious on its position to oppose the “paid sick leave” initiative that would have put Orange County at an economic disadvantage and added costs to employers of all sizes.
Tue, July 25, 2017
Lake Apopka Natural Gas District is one of the Chamber's oldest members, joining in 1973, the Chamber's second year. The organization has been involved with many Chamber initiatives over the years, and was honored as the Chamber Member of the Year in 2013.
Lake Apopka Natural Gas played a unique role in the Chamber's history, as the company's move to its current headquarters on Winter Garden Vineland Road spearheaded an agreement that allowed the Chamber to move into the district's previous location on State Road 50, a site that the Chamber still calls home today.
Tue, July 25, 2017
Recently, more than 25 Universal Orlando volunteers took part in constructing a unique playground for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The playground was funded by the Universal Orlando Foundation and built to provide children with a fun activity while they are staying at CCI. This playground is developmentally appropriate, provides sensory stimulating activities and is wheelchair accessible.
"The benefits of all-inclusive playgrounds are far-reaching and the Universal Orlando Foundation is proud to fund this project”, said Valerie Read, Director of the UO Foundation.
Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.
Tue, July 25, 2017
Back-to- school physicals are a summertime ritual for school-aged children and their families. But, for the estimated 27,000 children in Orange and Seminole counties who are uninsured, this annual rite of passage can be out of reach. For the fourth consecutive year, Shepherd’s Hope, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, is offering free back-to-school physicals and other medical services for local uninsured and underinsured families at three locations between July 31 and August 10.
The free back-to-school physicals will include general health assessments and sports physicals (minus immunizations) as well as vision and hearing screenings at select locations with a Nemours specialist. In addition, mammogram screenings will be available for women accompanying their children at the Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center location in conjunction with the Florida Hospital for Women Mobile Wellness Coach.
To qualify, children must be under age 18 and uninsured. The required Florida Department of Health form (DOH 3040) will be issued following completion of the physical examination which meets the Florida state requirement for enrollment in public or private school. Appointments must be scheduled in advance.
Physicals will be conducted at the following Shepherd’s Hope health clinic locations. Appointments can be made by calling (407) 876-6699, ext. 243:
Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center
The Sharing Center Plaza, 600 N. US Hwy 17-92, Suite #124, Longwood, FL 32750
Downtown Shepherd’s Hope Health Center
Orange County Medical Clinic, 101 S. Westmoreland Drive, Orlando, FL 32805
Dr. Diebel, Jr. Memorial Shepherd’s Hope Health Center
Samaritan Resource Center, 9833 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32817
“Uninsured children deserve to get the same start to their school year as their peers, and in partnership with Nemours, we are able to provide compassionate free health care to some of our youngest, most vulnerable, neighbors,” said Marni Stahlman, president and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope.
“This is our fourth year working side-by-side with Shepherd’s Hope on their free back-to-school physicals, and we really enjoy it,” said Al Torres, MD chief of critical care and transport at Nemours Children’s Hospital. “Everyone from Nemours who volunteered for Shepherd’s Hope wants to return, including me.”
Tue, July 25, 2017
Are you a small business employing anywhere from 2 to 100 employees? Do you offer health insurance to your employees? Have your premiums increased over the last 5-10 years?
The basis of any insurance product pricing is largely based on risk and claims. Naturally, we as consumers would expect that if we have low claims and engage in less risky behavior, this would translate into lower insurance premiums. In the last 5-10 years, the ACA (“Affordable Care Act”) drastically limited the Health Insurance carrier’s ability to rate for risk and claims. Several years later, we realize premiums have significantly increased and there are less choices for consumers.
Fortunately, there remain options for small businesses. The ACA had limited ability to regulate what we call “Partially Self-Funded” health plans. These are excellent options for employers who believe they have lower than expected health plan usage and are seeking a better value and lower prices.
What if I told you there are actually plans available for small businesses that pay back a surplus of premiums where claims are low and provide financial protection where claims are high?!
Many small businesses can’t afford to pay large premiums and not be rewarded for low claims. However, new products are available that potentially allow for savings and a surplus on select group plans under 100 employees. These products incorporate simplicity, savings, transparency, flexibility and financial protection all into one.
Plans are “level-funded”, so your company will make the same monthly claims funding payment throughout the plan year. The simplicity of a fixed monthly payment covers the claims funding amount, stop loss premium, run-off claims and admin fees. With self-funded plans, if the covered health care claims are lower than expected, your plan shares the savings with money back, a.k.a. your surplus! In addition, groups can save up to 25% with potential lower monthly payments than ACA premium rates. These plans also include regular reporting tools to help the company stay informed and members manage their benefits. Best of all, your group plan is protected with stop-loss coverage if claims are higher than anticipated. So, you will never be asked to pay for higher than anticipated claims costs.
Tue, July 25, 2017
Nao Tsurumaki, who launched his theater career in Central Florida 16 years ago, will lead Winter Garden’s historic Garden Theatre into the next decade as executive director, the theater’s board of directors announced today.
A former general manager of the Orlando Repertory Theatre and executive director of Children’s Chorus of Washington in Washington, D.C., Tsurumaki is eager to grow the already-successful Garden Theatre as its 10th anniversary season approaches.
“I’m delighted to see Garden Theatre thriving artistically and financially – it’s become a key player in this arts community,” Tsurumaki said. “What the board and the staff did in the last 10 years is remarkable, and I’m honored to join the team in this anniversary season and to provide leadership into the next decade.”
After an extensive search to replace former executive director Alauna Friskics, who now runs Orlando Fringe, the Garden Theatre Board of Directors said that Tsurumaki would begin his leadership role July 10. As he heads the effort to further grow and develop the downtown Winter Garden theater that attracts 65,000 guests each year, Tsurumaki will be charged with developing top-quality artistic and educational endeavors, said Paul Oppedisano, board president.
“We are thrilled to have found someone with Nao’s talent, experience and passion for the arts to lead the Garden Theatre team into our next decade,” Oppedisano said. “Our national search ended when we found the ideal candidate right here in Orlando. Nao fits in perfectly with the Garden Theatre’s amazing spirit.”
A native of Japan, Tsurumaki has fond childhood memories of attending theatrical performances with his mother, Yoko and wanting to know all about what happens “behind the curtain.”
His passion for the theater led him to the University of Central Florida to study the arts and, in 2001, Tsurumaki landed a position in stage management at the former Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach, Fla. He jumped at the 2004 opportunity to work as a national tour management intern with Disney Theatrical Productions on Broadway. Soon after, he was appointed Orlando Rep company manager, which evolved into a general manager role through 2011. That’s when he was tapped to be executive director of Children’s Chorus of Washington in Washington, D.C., a leadership position he enjoyed for two years.
But Tsurumaki’s heart remained in Central Florida. In 2013, when he and his wife, Megan, were expecting their first child, the couple returned to Orlando where Tsurumaki joined Nemours Children’s Hospital in a role involving instructional design and talent development. When the Garden Theatre position opened, Tsurumaki seized the opportunity.
Becky Roper, Garden Theatre founding president and trustee emeritus, said Tsurumaki has a “keen sense of the core values of our operation, and he brings to the table a fresh perspective toward the board’s long-term strategic goals.
“It’s an exciting time for the theater to experience its first transitional leadership,” Roper added. “Still youthful, but with firm financial footing, we have a lot of goals and dreams for the theater. It’s a wonderful time to welcome Nao to the Garden Theatre family as we mature into our second decade with a fresh look at where we want to go as an organization in our community and regionally.”
Gene Columbus, Tsurumaki’s former UCF professor and colleague at Orlando Repertory Theatre, says Tsurumaki will approach the role with a long-term vision that can take Garden Theatre “to the next level.”
“He is a well-respected theater professional who knows the community, and he comes with a solid understanding of Orlando and the arts scene,” said Columbus, Orlando Rep executive director and former Garden Theatre board member. “He is exceptionally well organized and understands budgets, programming and marketing, and he works closely with the experts in those fields. I’m thrilled for Nao and even more thrilled for the Garden Theatre.”
Tsurumaki said that he has watched the evolution of the Garden Theatre since it opened. “I’ve often thought how amazing it would be to take part in a community venture like this,” said Tsurumaki, who will be involved in every aspect of the theater’s growth. “Ten years ago, downtown Winter Garden wasn’t the destination it is now, and a large part of that growth was due to the way Garden Theatre grew and became a part of the social fabric. Now, on any given weekend, you will find vitality and this wonderful energy in terms of a Florida-downtown social picture. I’m very excited to explore different ways we can inject theater into the lives of this community.”
Tsurumaki, his wife, Megan, 3-year-old son Luke, and new baby Hannah live in Orlando.
Garden Theatre of Winter Garden will celebrate its 10th anniversary during the 2017-18 performance season. Originally built in 1935 as a single-screen cinema, the theatre was the first in Central Florida built for “talkies” and was a gathering place for locals to watch the latest newsreels and films of the day. The building was restored to its former glory in 2008, and the 299-seat Garden Theatre, with a current annual budget of nearly $1.5 million, has grown to a performing arts center with extensive programming that includes professional live theatre, concerts, dance, special events, movies and a thriving summer camp and arts education program. Visit www.gardentheatre.org or contact 407.877.4736 for details about the 2017-18 season. Garden Theatre is located at 160 W. Plant Street, Winter Garden, FL 34787.
Mon, July 24, 2017
Advanced Disposal Services
Collison Carey Hand Funeral Home
Harbor Community Bank
HR On Call
Keller Williams Classic Real Estate - Team Koss
Latham, Shuker, Eden & Beaudine, LLP
Law Offices of Nathan L. Townsend, P.A.
Pat Orr with Beyond Beautiful
Pressure Cleaning Orlando
RentCare Property Management
River of Life Osteopathic
Sawyer & Sawyer, P.A.
Southwest Orlando Eye Care
Teak Neighborhood Grill
The Crowne Group, Inc.
Two Men And A Truck
West Orange Cinema
Windermere Allergy & Asthma
Yellow Dog Eats Cafe
Bay Hill Jewelers
Benchmark Real Estate Group, Inc.
Friendly Confines MetroWest
Ocoee Tire & Auto Service
Table Top Catering
The Local Butcher and Market
Transitions Commute Solutions LLC
Thu, July 13, 2017
Would you like to be at the forefront of change and progress in West Orange County? If you are a Chamber Member who is passionate about our local business community, please consider applying for the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) 2018 Board of Directors. This is your opportunity to make a difference in West Orange County and contribute to an organization that works for you every day.
The Board of Directors is the policy-making panel for the WOCC. Its members include a diverse mix of 33 business professionals from large, medium and small companies that represent the entire West Orange business community. Being a part of the WOCC Board of Directors empowers you to help make decisions that will impact the future of the WOCC and West Orange County, and to build long lasting relationships with local business leaders and elected officials.
Thu, July 13, 2017
The City of Ocoee’s Before and After School Program provides a safe, fun and engaging environment for children. Residents may register for the Before and After School Program on July 24 – 28. Open enrollment for residents and non-residents will be held on July 31. Registration will be held at the Jim Beech Recreation Center on Monday – Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The program, open to children ages 5 –14, is held at the Jim Beech Recreation Center, 1820 A.D. Mims Road. Fun activities for the program include sports, crafts, homework time and movies. Children can be dropped off at the Jim Beech Center beginning at 6:30 a.m. Pick up time ends at 6:30 p.m. Transportation to and from school will be provided for students who attend Citrus Elementary, Ocoee Elementary, Prairie Lake Elementary, Spring Lake Elementary and Ocoee Middle School.
The registration fee is $25 per child. For Ocoee residents, weekly tuition for before school care is $25 and $15 for each additional child. After school care is $35 and $20 for each additional child. For before and after school care, the cost is $60 for the first child and $95 for two children.
For non-residents, before school care is $35 and $25 for each additional child. After school care is $45 for the first child and $30 for each additional child. For before and after school care, the cost is $80 for one child and $135 for two children.
To register, residents should bring a photo I.D., a current Ocoee water bill, birth certificate and shot records. The first week’s tuition and $25 registration fee must be paid at registration.
For more information, please call the Jim Beech Recreation Center at 407-905-3180.
Tue, July 11, 2017
The iconic Florida Citrus Bowl has long played a major role in Central Florida's sports industry, but the recent reconstruction of the landmark facility has taken the building and associated events to new heights. The venue, now named Camping World Stadium, has played host to the NFL Pro Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Florida Blue Florida Classic, Florida Citrus Parade, world-class soccer matches and countless other Central Florida-based events generating economic impact, and ultimately benefiting at-risk children and educational initiatives.
Join us for Business Before Hours on August 10 at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center to hear from Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports. Hogan and his team worked tirelessly alongside community leaders for nearly a decade to secure the necessary financing to rejuvenate the stadium as a multi-purpose venue attracting marquee events. He is regarded as being the “quarterback” who brought together leaders from the public and private sector to convince the NFL to move the Pro Bowl to "The City Beautiful," and make it a week-long celebration.
Tue, July 11, 2017
Woodlawn Memorium in Gotha is one of the Chamber's original members, joining in 1972, and founded in 1926. It has served many generations of our community and its leaders, and features beautiful grounds and a chapel all in one location.
Tue, July 11, 2017
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce is a proud supporter of the Healthy West Orange initiative, which aims to make West Orange the healthiest community in the nation, one step at a time. The WOCC team has joined in supporting this initiative on both an individual and organizational level. Each member of our team has taken the Healthy West Orange pledge, in addition to hundreds of our members.
Mon, July 10, 2017
Guest article by Jeff Cobb, Precision Background Screeners
Here’s a question I bet most of you can answer…
Have you ever hired an employee or worked with someone that “just didn’t work out” within the company?
We imagine there are a lot of heads nodding YES to that question and that’s exactly why we’re in business!
Think about this: Florida had the 8th highest turnover rate in the country in 2016. Nationally, employee theft is calculated to cost companies over $100 billion per year and workplace violence over $120 billion per year. How many of those companies said, “It won’t happen here” because we trust our employees only to end up as one of these statistics?
If your company is dealing with a high turnover rate, you are not alone in this maze of hiring quality applicants. To reduce the risk, liability and inefficiency of time wasted in poor hires, many businesses turn to a good, reliable background screening company for help.
When you look for one that fits your needs, like Precision Background Screeners based right here locally, look for one that has a passion in helping employers hire the right employees for the right job so your only focus is growing your business. A full-service background check provider should focus on putting you in control. It’s also been a telling sign that many companies are moving away from payroll services that offer this as an “additional service”. They are seeking out companies that specialize in what they do best – background screening – as a separate service (unbundled) because the risk is just too high.
So, look for 24/7 secure online ordering access, email notification when each search is complete, direct access to Client Services and Compliance divisions and of course they should be FCRA complaint. You and your staff can rest easy when you take the proper steps to protect your company before something happens.
Fri, July 07, 2017
COCOA, Fla. – Today, Governor Scott announced that Florida’s airports rank second in the nation for airline passenger volume according to preliminary data from the Federal Aviation Administration and Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Governor Scott also applauded President Trump and the U.S. Department of Transportation for awarding $10.6 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants to eight Florida airports.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida’s airports have surpassed Texas and are now second in the nation for the most amount of airline passengers. Florida’s airports help welcome millions of visitors, business leaders and families to our state each year, and have a significant impact on supporting job creation and growing our economy. That is why I am proud that we have invested more than $1 billion in state funding in our airports over the past six years.
“I would also like to thank the Trump Administration for awarding federal funding to eight Florida airports so we can continue to grow. I was proud to join President Trump last month at the White House to discuss the future of infrastructure, and it is clear that we have a partner in D.C. that understands the importance of supporting transportation projects in Florida. We will continue to make important investments in our airports so Florida can be first for airline passengers.”
According to the latest statistics available from the Federal Aviation Administration (preliminary 2016), Florida’s airports now handle more enplanements than Texas, placing it second in the nation only to California. Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics support that claim.
Mike Dew, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary, said, “Florida’s airports are critical to the economy of our state and Governor Scott has demonstrated that by investing over $1 billion in our airport system.”
The Florida airports receiving federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants are Daytona Beach International Airport, DeFuniak Springs Airport, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, Wauchula Municipal Airport, St Pete???Clearwater International, Jacksonville International, New Smyrna Beach Municipal, and Space Coast Regional. More information on projects and funding amounts can be found HERE and HERE.
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget signed by Governor Scott last month included more than $263 million for aviation improvements, and since 2011, the State of Florida has invested more than $1 billion in Florida’s airports. Florida airports account for 1.3 million Florida jobs with an annual payroll of $44.5 billion, and support more than $144 billion in annual economic activity.Florida has four large hub airports, more than any other state.
Tue, June 27, 2017
I am excited to bring you the news that this month, I and the entire WOCC Board of Directors approved plans to revamp the Chamber’s headquarters. The improvements to the Chamber building, which was last renovated in 1998, will help our organization lead the West Orange business community in meeting the challenges of a dynamic business environment.
In anticipation of the continued strong growth of the West Orange business community, we are seeking to create a state-of-the-art interior with expanded meeting areas, new member service stations, upgrades to the building’s exterior and accommodations for a growing staff to meet our members’ needs.
The cost of expansion is expected to not exceed $450,000. The project will be funded through community support, along with a significant contribution of the Chamber’s own funds. To date, the organization has received lead gifts of $125,000 toward the “Growth Matters” capital campaign.
Stay tuned to wochamber.com for the latest news on this exciting new venture. If you and/or your business are interested in supporting or partnering on the Growth Matters campaign, please contact the Chamber at 407-656-1304 for more information.
Tue, June 27, 2017
Ace Hardware is one of the West Orange Chamber's original members, joining in 1972, and is one of the area's oldest businesses. Last summer, the company celebrated its 110th anniversary at its Winter Garden location.
Established as Bray Hardware in 1906, the company was purchased and renamed by Walter Toole, creating Toole's Ace Hardware. The organization is known as a strong supporter of local groups and causes. Toole is active in the local community and served as the WOCC chairman in 1989.
Tue, June 27, 2017
One of the Chamber's most highly anticipated events is the biennial Hob Nob & Straw Poll. Held in even years, this event offers attendees to meet the political candidates up for election, who in turn have the opportunity to share their message with members of the community. The highlight of the evening is the straw poll, in which attendees cast their ballot to provide an early indication of the state of each race.
Mon, June 26, 2017
Project Finance & Development, LLC
Bella Italia Ristorante
Ellie Lou's Brews & BBQ
New York Life - Orlando
Orlando Gun Club
Supreme Laser Tag Family Fun Center
Take 5 Oil Change
Victory Martial Arts - Ocoee
Vior Management Group
Orlando Health - West Orange Neurology Specialists
Griffith Financial Services
Mortgage Solutions of Central Florida NMLS #292284
Golden Pond Communities
Auto Sales of Winter Garden
The Attic Door
Southwest Orlando Bulletin
TooJay's Restaurant and Deli - Ocoee
Aquaterra Development, Inc.
Cookie Jar Food Services
The Barranco Clinic, P.A.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
The Salt Place
Stewart Title Company
Health Markets-Sylvester Woodley
West Orange Country Club
Europa Designs LLC
VU Window Treatments by Verticals Unlimited
KLH Financial Services
Salon Technologies International Inc
BrightStart Pediatrics, LLC
Oerther Foods, Inc.
Fravel, W. K., D.M.D., P.A.
Serenades by Sonata Memory Care Assisted Living
Dewey's Indoor Golf and Sports Grill
Fairwinds Credit Union
Oxi Fresh of Orlando
The Grove Resort & Spa
Success Catalyst International
Fri, June 09, 2017
The West Orange Healthcare District is an independent special district established by the Florida Legislature in 1949. It is governed by a board of 16 Trustees, appointed by the Florida Governor to serve 4 year terms to address the health and wellness needs of our growing community through the funding of healthcare programs and the expansion of healthcare services.
Fri, June 09, 2017
Lynn Walker Wright, P.A. is a longtime fixture in the Chamber and the West Orange community. Currently a Supporting Trustee of the Chamber, she has previously served as the chairman of both the WOCC and the Committee of 101.
Active in the community at large, Lynn was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to serve as a Trustee for the West Orange Healthcare District. She is a recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Orange County Bar and was named the Meritorious Service Recipient in Georgia. Lynn is a 4th generation "Floridian" and her grandfather was a founding father of the City of Winter Garden, where her practice has been located for many years.
Thu, June 08, 2017
Doing business with Chamber members is more important and goes deeper than you may think. It strengthens the business community, increases your own exposure and you will have a better experience than using non-Chamber members. So, how do you identify and use Chamber members? It is easier than you may think!
When individuals know that a business is a member of the local chamber, the business enjoys a 68% increase in its local reputation, and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future. The key factor in developing and maintaining positive consumer perception of your business is that consumers know that your business is a Chamber member! (Schapiro Group Study) Identifying as a connected, trusted and referred member is as easy as your membership plaque, store front window cling and/or the approved Chamber logo on your website and/or social media.
Finding who is a fellow Chamber member is as easy as looking up the business directory by category at wochamber.com on your phone or device, or asking a Chamber team member! Being a part of your West Orange Chamber of Commerce, a three-time Chamber of the Year, is a source of pride. Connect with each other, support each other, and refer each other; go forth and do good business!
Tue, May 23, 2017
May is a time for transition for many of us. Children are wrapping up their school year, our college students are home for the summer or starting their internships and many of us are gearing up for a much-needed summer vacation.
At the West Orange Chamber, it is no different. We have spent much of the early stages of our milestone 45th year celebrating achievements of the past and recognizing those who helped us reach this point. As we shift our focus forward, we are seeing that the future of West Orange is in great hands.
Earlier this month, I was pleased to join the Chamber staff at the West Orange Chamber Education awards. The event honored students for their initiative, good citizenship, commitment and personal growth in the classroom with the presentation of the SOAR (Students of Achievement and Renown) Awards, the announcement of the Danniel J. Petro/ West Orange Chamber of Commerce Scholarship winners and celebration of graduates from the WOPTE (West Orange Program for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs) program. The event was truly inspirational with hundreds of students, parents and community leaders in attendance. Congratulations to all of the award winners!
Thank you to Evans High School for their generous hospitality, to our sponsors - Orlando Health, Trophies Unlimited, Minutemen Press and Barbee Cain Photography - and to the educators, administrators, parents and volunteers from our Education Committee for making this event possible.
This Thursday, our West Orange Economic Update Luncheon will provide an illuminating glimpse into the current state of the West Orange business community and what is emerging on the horizon. Join us at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center to take part in an informational discussion featuring a star-studded panel that includes Scott Boyd of Boyd Development, Myles Thomas of Tag Aero, Jim Drayton of MetroWest Master Association and Sandra French of West Oaks Mall/Moonbeam Properties.
At the luncheon, we will also celebrate the Chamber’s 45 years of Facilitating Opportunity, including an introduction to some of the plans that will shape our next 45 years. Finally, we will recognize the Chamber’s Adult Leadership Program, Leadership West Orange sponsored by Florida Hospital Winter Garden, with a graduation ceremony. This year’s class of 23 participants, the “West Orange Crushers,” participated in the eight-month program designed to educate future leaders of West Orange County. Ticket sales will close soon and are not available at the door, so hurry to wochamber.com to reserve your seat at this valuable event.
Tue, May 23, 2017
CenturyLink is one of the West Orange Chamber's original members, joining during the formation of the Chamber in 1972. CenturyLink was named the Chamber's "2013 Big Business of the Year" at that year's Big Orange Awards.
The company is active throughout the West Orange community, and has been a longtime sponsor and partner on numerous Chamber events throughout the area.
Tue, May 23, 2017
One of the Chamber's longest running events is its monthly Business After Hours. These events afford Chamber members and other attendees with great relationship-building opportunities, while they enjoy appetizers, beverages and chances to win great prizes. This event is a mainstay in the Chamber world. A sponsor plays host to 100 - 200 attendees showcasing their office space or store front, along with their unique products and services.
In recent years, Business After Hours events have been hosted by hospitals, home builders, senior residences, storage facilities, fitness centers, restaurants, auto sales centers, funeral homes... just about any place you can imagine. Click here to learn more about hosting a BAH at your business, or visit the Chamber calendar to find an upcoming event to attend!
Tue, May 23, 2017
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) announced today that Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, has joined the organization’s Board of Directors.
Commissioner VanderLey has been an active participant in the Chamber, graduating from the 2013-14 class of Leadership West Orange and serving as Chairman of the Economic and Government Affairs Committee. She was named the Chamber’s October 2013 Member of the Month, and received the 2014 Chairman’s Award.
The Chamber also took time to recognize departing board member, Orange County District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson, for his dedication and service.
Tue, May 23, 2017
Aussie Pet Mobile of Windermere
Beverly Hills Jewelry Watch and Loan
Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que
Carlos R. Colon-Bengoa, D.D.S., P.A.
Dr. Marv's Perfect Portraits
Europa Designs LLC
HREC Investment Advisors
LaPorte Financial, LLC
Law Offices of Ginger R. Lore, P.A.
Morgan Stanley Windermere
Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
Richard A. Dumois, M.D.
Sand Lake Imaging
Strombeck Consulting, CPA's
Surveillance Plus, LLC
Sweetwater Car Wash
Talbot Asset Management
The Occasional Grape
The Original Sign Factory
The Salt Place
Valladares Law Firm, LLC
Winter Garden Wheel Works